Saturday, 08 August, 2020

Microsoft to Retire Cortana App for Android, iOS Early Next Year

Microsoft to phase out Cortana Skills, drop support for Harman Kardon speakers, mobile devices Microsoft Shutting Down Cortana App for iOS and Android
Cecil Davis | 02 August, 2020, 05:38

Microsoft today announced that some us consumer-centric features of Cortana are being phased out soon due to low usage (via ZDNet). Microsoft will focus on repurposing aspects of Cortana for its suite of productivity products rather than attempting to compete on consumer devices with leaders in the virtual assistant space, like Apple, Google, and Amazon. In early 2021, Microsoft will stop supporting the Cortana apps on iOS and Android.

Microsoft is rethinking its strategy for Cortana, its digital voice assistant, and has now made a decision to end support for its mobile apps, third-party skills, and accessories.

The company is encouraging users to manage email, calendars, and other tools using "new productivity-focused experiences" such as Cortana on Windows 10 and the virtual assistant's integrations into Microsoft Teams and Outlook.

Next year, the tech giant is also ending the consumer Cortana service for two products: the Harman Kardon Invoke speaker and the Surface Headphones.

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For the Invoke, Microsoft plans on delivering a firmware update that'll turn the product into a conventional Bluetooth speaker you can connect to a smartphone. This will arrive via a firmware update within six months of its release; once the Invoke is updated, Cortana will no longer be accessible on the device.

As a bit of consolation, Microsoft will send one $50 Microsoft gift card per active Invoke to the US -based Microsoft account used to set up the speaker. But owners will still be able to access some Cortana skills. Of course, all of that is small consolation if you bought into the company's original vision for Cortana. Presumably this is to stop people from grabbing a bunch of unused Invoke devices to earn gift cards. Going forward, all versions of the Surface Headphones and the Surface Earbuds will be able to use Cortana through the integration with Outlook Mobile. First-generation Surface Headphones owners can get a $25 gift card.

As The Verge points, the changes mark another step in Cortana reinvention as a productivity-focused digital helper.

"We've spent a lot of time thinking through this transition and understand that these changes may be disruptive to some of our customers", says the company toward the end of its announcement.